Final age group to get jab invites from this week
Luxembourg will start inviting people aged 54 and younger for a coronavirus vaccination from this week, the government said on Tuesday, as the country enters a decisive stage in its fight against Covid-19.
The news that the final phase of the vaccination campaign for people aged between 16 and 54 will start comes one day after Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said he expected every adult in Luxembourg would be called upon to get vaccinated by the middle of July.
"As things stand now, we can, in the next few weeks, and before the summer holidays, send every Luxembourger an invitation", Bettel said, speaking at the national congress of his centrist Democratic Party on Monday.
Luxembourg's school holidays start in mid-July. The European Commission has also said that around 70% of the adult population in the 27-nation bloc should be vaccinated by then, which should significantly suppress Covid-19.
"We see a situation that is constantly improving and more people can get vaccinated", Bettel said, although he still cautioned that "we are at the mercy of producers and suppliers."
Luxembourg is currently vaccinating people aged between 55 and 64. It has also opened a list for volunteers aged between 30 and 54 for the AstraZeneca shot, which has been linked to rare cases of blood clots.
So far, 26,000 people have signed voluntarily to the list, a higher number than what Bettel said he had expected and which took the website down last week on the evening of its launch.
Luxembourg's top infectious diseases body is also considering to open up the single-jab Johnson & Johnson vaccine for volunteers, given that there is also an extremely small risk of it causing blood clots.
Long a laggard, Luxembourg has been catching up with the EU average in the roll-out of its vaccines. Currently, the country of 630,000 inhabitants has administered close to 179,000 vaccines.
Luxembourg has now administered around 28.6 doses per 100 inhabitants, according to Our World in Data, slightly below an EU average of 29.8 and Germany's 30.9. Malta, of a similar population size as Luxembourg, is leading the pack in Europe with 71 doses given out per 100 people.
On Monday, Germany said every adult could get an appointment for a vaccination from June onwards, regardless of age.
Bettel defended Family Minister Corinne Cahen - a fellow party member - against accusations she had not done enough to prevent the high number of deaths in care homes, which is now subject to a government inquiry, saying the criticism from opposition politicians amounted to "populism".
On Saturday, Health Minister Paulette Lenert said that the government might allow a further easing of social restrictions in May, after outdoor gastronomy establishments could reopen in early April.